'We now have some hope again': The special connection John Pemberton is building with Chesterfield supporters

John Pemberton held his hand out in front of him as if he was trying to stop traffic.

By Liam Norcliffe
Sunday, 22nd March 2020, 10:54 am

He had a concerned and serious look on his face.

Th 55-year-old continued to walk across the Crabble Stadium pitch and over to the 161 Spireites fans who had made the 500-mile round trip to Dover in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘Why the hell are you here,’ he was probably thinking.

He wanted to say thank you for their tremendous support. But he could not get a word in.

“Pemberton’s barmy army” was on loop from the away end. And it would not stop.

The game had finished 1-1. Chesterfield conceded in the 89th minute. Why the jubilant scenes?

The answer would come the following morning in response to this tweet by Pemberton.

John Pemberton walks over to the travelling Spireites fans at Dover who made the 500-mile round trip last Saturday.

“I have to say the backing we received by all our Chesterfield supporters who travelled all the way to Dover yesterday just blew me away when I walked out,” he said. “That is why I personally came over to thank you. It was the least I could do. You have been amazing all of you. Thank you.”

The replies told you everything you needed to know about how highly Town fans think of him and the special connection he has with them.

Lifelong supporter Howard Borrell replied: “Thank YOU John.....we now have some hope again. It's a long road back but with you driving I'm becoming confident.”

Fan Jon Bennett wrote: “John. As a season ticket holder of many years and a fan since 1977 the situation the club was in prior to your appointment was intolerable and upsetting. You’ve given me pride back in my club. Thank you.”

And Spireite Tim Chambers added: “Keep up the good work John. You'd made the very best of what you were dealt and you have my appreciation and thanks. Enjoy a few days off if you can.”

Pemberton has only been in charge of the Blues for nine matches since the start of January.

He inherited a team third bottom of the National League and five points from safety. They looked doomed. Dead and buried.

Fast forward 11 weeks and Chesterfield are two places and two points above the bottom four.

They are still not out of danger by any means, but they have a fighting chance.

But it is about more than that.

Pemberton has galvanised the whole club, given everyone belief and put some pride back in the shirt.

He just gets it. He gets them. They get him.

It is early days but it has a Chris Wilder-Sheffield United feel about it. They are a perfect match.

After five miserable years, a similar period to what the Blades suffered before storming up to the Premier League, Pemberton could well be the man to get the Proact rocking again.

Among all of the dozens of replies to ‘Pembo’ was one that will be in the back of everyone’s minds.

“Looking forward to next season already and you driving us forward,” supporter John Stevenson said.

Pemberton HAS to be here next season.

The club, most likely under new ownership of the community trust, has to do everything they can to keep him.

From what both the trust and Pemberton have said so far it does appear their plans for the club match up.

But Pemberton is ambitious and he has to think about his own managerial career. He does not want to be set up to fail. If the tools he is given to work with are not up to scratch then he could go elsewhere and he won’t be short of offers that is for sure.

Keeping Pembo could be a turning point so let’s hope he does not slip through the net.